How to make a camera bag insert for a purse

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Fabric + Craft + Art Projects

Inside of DIY camera bag from a purse

If you have a DSLR camera, then you probably want a bag that does a decent job of protecting your investment.  You are taking pretty pictures, why settle for a generic, black camera bag that at best is “blah”?  You can have pretty and practical without breaking the bank.  Read on for how to make a camera bag insert for a purse.

Pinterest had a plethora of choices for a DIY bag.  I pinned four onto my Photography board, but the one I chose was from  Some of the tutorials actually put the foam pieces under the purse liner, which was kinda cool, but I want the option of removing.  And I loved her purse/fabric combo.  Here’s mine:

The purse I chose was a Nine West.  Now I am not a fashion diva, although you may think that from this post, so I’m not quite sure the original price tag of $72 was accurate, but I paid $24.99 at Burlington Coat Factory.

Make your own camera bag

Purse for DIY camera bagThis was exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted white like the inspiration project because I just did.  I wanted it to be relatively shallow and I wanted it to have two handles, to make removing the camera while it is still on my shoulder an easy task because I can slip one handle off my shoulder and open it up while the other handle is still on my shoulder.  I tried this one out and it performs perfectly.

Supplies for DIY camera bagI bought the amounts that were recommended in the tutorial of the 3/4″ and 1/2″ foam (bigger amount) and fabric.  I believe I can make another bag with the leftovers, but don’t go and buy half of what she says!  I’m not sure if you need that amount because of the dimensions and I didn’t pay close enough attention while I was assembling.

The parts that I made were:

3/4″ foam:  bottom (4.5 x 15) and 2 short dividers (4.5 x 3.5)

**UPDATE: I discovered when I looked at the receipt from JoAnn’s recently, that I had actually purchased 1″ foam, not 3/4″.  Either will work.

1/2″ foam: 2 long sides (4.5 x 12) and 2 lens dividers (7.5 x 3)

I used an electric knife to cut all the foam.  Easy peasy that way, but a sharp cutting knife would work too (that’s what they used at JoAnn’s when I bought it).

Although I think that Vanilla and Lace covered what you need if you’ve got some sewing experience, I’m not sure you could complete this easily without it, so I’m going to supplement her tutorial.  In order to account for the thickness of the foam, your fabric dimensions will need some thought.    I used 1/2″ seam allowances so my dimensions were:

Bottom: 6.25 x 16.75 (add 1″ for seam allowances and 3/4″ for thickness of foam for each dimension)

2 short dividers: 8.25 x 5.25 (add 1″ for seam allowances, 3/4″ for thickness of foam, 2″ for flaps that the velcro get attached to for each dimension)

2 long sides: 6 x 13.5 (add 1″ for seam allowances and 1/2″ for foam thickness for each dimension)

2 lens dividers: 11 x 4.5 (add 1″ for seam allowances, 1/2″ for foam thickness, 2″ for flaps that the velcro gets attached to for each dimension)

When I made the pillow cases for the foam as she says, I also stitched the fourth open side in a little on both ends–leaving enough open that I could get the foam in there.  Then iron all the seams open and also iron down the edges that are open by 1/2″ also.  That creates a nice crease that you can use to sew the edge shut.

Arrow directions for ironing DIY camera bagNow you will insert the foam piece and slip stitch the opening shut.

Ironed edges ready to slip stitch for DIY camera bagThis is the nice edge you created by ironing down the open seam allowance in the last step.

First step slip stitch DIY camera bagAfter you knot the thread and get it started, slip the needle and catch a small section of your ironed edge.  Pull the needle through.

Second slip stitch DIY camera bagNow you start the needle on the other ironed edge, beginning the stitch directly across from where the needle came out of the fabric on the other side.  Pull it through.

Third slip stitch on DIY camera bagGo back to the other side and insert the needle into the fabric directly across from where it came out of the other side.  Repeat this until you get to the other side!  You will want to keep the stitches small–mine are probably a little too big.  Otherwise they can gap open.

Attaching the velcro on DIY camera bagNow I had planned on sewing all of the velcro onto the fabric.  But you have to do that before you stitch it all together.  Luckily I had not slip-stitched it shut yet, so I could still iron some adhesive on there without melting the foam.  I used what I had sitting around.  It seems to be working great!  It’s not like a cloth diaper that will be getting pulled on and off all the time, so I’m not too worried (the velcro is from when I was sewing cloth diapers for Pip forever ago–that’s where that analogy came from!).

**UPDATE:  This is not sticking perfectly with this particular iron-on adhesive.  There might be some particular kind out there that does, but from now on I will be stitching all velcro onto the parts that need it to be sure it stays put.

I did choose to sew the velcro onto the flaps, but after seeing how well this is sticking, I wish I had just used the adhesive.  Sewing velcro is a bit of a pain–the thread will want to shred in the scratchy stuff.  If you go that route, do a zig zag stitch and have the zig catch the velcro side and the zag just hit the fabric only.  That helps a lot with thread breakage.  To make the flaps, turn it right side out, mark a line 1″ from the short edge and stitch it.  Once your flaps are done you can insert the foam and slip stitch it shut.


Inside of white purse DIY camera bag showing green print padded insert


Finished DIY camera bag in a white purse with green print fabric insertI am loving this bag and the new camera.  Before I made the bag, I was toting the camera around in the shipping box.  This is much more handy.

**If you are wondering what I ended up with, after much research I bought a refurbished Canon T1i from B&H Photo.  I bought the extended warranty for peace of mind and I couldn’t be happier…except with my photography skills.  Those need some work 🙂

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